Thursday, August 19, 2010

You are at an Impasse

On Sunday Aug. 8th I completed my first true Olympic distance triathlon. I registered for another earlier in the season but it was changed to an Olympic duathlon. I was mostly concerned with the swimming leg, then with the distance of the race overall – especially since I am planning to do the HalfRev in September.

I will get to my brief race report in a moment.

My horoscope two days later read:

“You are at an impasse. An opinion that you unconsciously cling to is the thing holding you back. Lose your own point of view and really listen to another person. That is when the breakthrough comes.”

Later that morning, I received an email from a friend and fellow triathlete. It read:


I was looking at the results for the Cleveland Tri and saw your name. Is everything okay? I know it was hot in Mentor so I can just imagine what conditions were like downtown.

Just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you.

I responded:

Hey ****,

Thanks for asking. I actually did OK for me on the swim. Keep in mind I'm slow at everything. It was 1500m and my goal on Sunday was to gauge how I would be at the REV3 doing 1.2mi. I've always been scared of not making the cutoff time on the swim. Barring very bad weather, I should make it in 1:10.

The bike was awful. Yeah it was hot. Yeah it was windy. Both seem to suck everything out of me. But that was not my biggest problem on Sunday. Every time I went from the big chain ring to the small chain ring, my chain fell off. Naturally, it was just before a big hill so I had no momentum going up any hills. I'm not sure what I was doing wrong. Lou told me I was changing gears too late and the torque was making the chain fall off. He told me to make sure I switch chain rings on flat ground and no slope. Anyway I could never get into a grove on the bike. I know I'm capable of faster than 12.4 mph. I was very disappointed in the bike.

By the time I got to the run I was tired and it was hot. Again I'm pretty slow anyways, so on my best day I would only have been a little faster.

I'm glad I finished but part of my problem too was I didn't want to be at this tri. I wanted to be at the Greater Cleveland Tri. I signed up for this one last January not knowing they would be on the same day. If I would have known that I'd have done the other. They ran out of shirts so I didn't get one and they ran out of finishers medals too. It was weird. I doubt I'll ever do this one again. It was also way more expensive - even signing up last January!!!

My friend responded:

You had one heck of a day. Without seeing what is going on I think Lou is right about the chain dropping. There could also be some adjusting that could happen with the front derailleur.

I understand the confusion with the races. I have heard many comments about the downtown race in prior years that I am not a big supporter of it. The race in Mentor is nicer, the race director is local and it's closer to your home.

Your tenacity of finishing the race is very admirable.

One of my teammates has pulled out of the HalfRev due to injury. She is able to transfer her entry to the race in 2011. Just something to think about as you evaluate your progress from Sundays' race and your workout results.

Let ***** and I know if there is anything you want to talk about. We are here to help you out and support you.

When I read that, I went into a tailspin of fear, doubt, and every negative thought you could possible imagine. What did he mean by what he said????

So I asked:

Thanks. I know your both are here to help.

I really don't want to quit. I want to finish what I started. I have always been slow and near or at the bottom of the list, so I'm not expecting miracles with this one. My goal is to finish. I'm not overly concerned with my time.

Should I be more concerned? Now I'm wondering????

His response was:
Your attitude has been great through all of this. I am only making sure you know your options. You are the only one who can make the final decision. DO NOT let me plant any doubts in your mind. That is not what I am trying to do.

You are confident in your swim to be able to finish the 1.2 miles in the time you need to.

You have ridden the bike course and know what to expect.

The run course is flat so you should feel good about that. I know I am because I have done NO hill training this summer.

Don't wonder.........Know.

If you came out of the race Sunday knowing you are ready to toe the start line and cross the finish line in September....that's a good place to be. The only thing that has changed from then to now is my e-mail making sure you are okay. I'm on the outside looking in.

You are the only one who can make this decision....and I think you already knew your decision on Sunday.

I just want to say - THANK YOU MY FRIEND. I am not an athletically gifted person. I am just someone who enjoys triathlon. I do my best. Unfortunately, my best is much, much slower than most if not all of those around me. I guarantee I will be worried about the cutoff times for all three disciplines.

At this moment, as September 12th is looming, I can assure you I am scared. Scared to start. Scared to fail. Scared to DNF. Scared to look like an idiot. However, I am not scared to be DFL – because if I’m DFL, that will mean that I finished. That is and will be (at least for this year) my one and only goal. I hope I make it.


  1. Hey, you gotta tri.
    I've never been DFL but as you will see in my book, I've been FFDFL (fifth from dead .... last) and you are right, it's no different than coming in second as no one remembers anyone but the first place finisher anyway.
    Oh, by the way, 3 IMs and I'm scared of next week, too..

  2. I will tell you what. You have the love of triathlon in you, it's evident from reading your posts. You should have no fear WHATSOEVER going into this. Go at your pace, do not leave your comfort zone and you will do fine.

    I love your spirit and your views of things. It is so refreshing. I am of a different mindset... I was told I was not good enough for sports when I was a kid and I have spent the rest of my life trying to prove to myself that I am good at sports... total mental complex that I will never workout in entirety.

    We have a charity event that we have to help with the same day as Rev3, I wish I could be up there to cheer you guys on, I would make sure to cheer you on and get you out of the water in time! I don't think you will have a problem as soon as you get out of the water.

    As for the chain issue, Lou hit it spot on. Go to a smaller ring before you approach the hill, I learned this the hard way :( The also sell a little piece of metal you can mount on your derailer to prevent the chain from slipping, its like $6 and blocks the chain from popping off.

    Hang in there, keep your head up and do what you feel comfortable doing!!! Trust in your training!

  3. I want to punch that dude's lights out. Are you kidding me? Maybe I'm more defensive because I am slow as molasses, but it really ticks me off for anyone to comment on how fast or slow you go. For realz. You are out there! How about all the lazy schmucks who are still IN BED!

    I haven't been DFL but I've been SFDFL (second from DFL) and guess what ... it doesn't change a damn thing. It took me 8 flipping hours to run a 50K. No, I'm NOT an athlete, but guess what, I'm also not a quitter. And neither are you.

    You're going to do great. Don't doubt yourself one bit.

  4. I don't think that our mutual friend meant any harm. He is one of the sweetest guys I know.

    I think you will be just fine! You've put the training in and will have a wonderful day as a result. Don't stress.

    As for dropping the chain, make sure that before you shift from big chain to little chain that the chain in the back is in the middle of the cogs. If you are on the smallest cog then your chain will drop. I've had that happen to me at that race. One minute you are bombing down a hill and the next you have to go up hill after making a hairpin turn. I truly hate that course, but that is for another discussion. Oh, another helpful tip my coach told me is when your chain drops quickly go back to the gear you were in right before it dropped. Often, this will pull the chain back on.

    Good luck at Rev3. I know you will do great!

    Oh, and if you ever read my blog, know that I have been almost DFL several times. Who cares? We are still ahead of the 99% of people who aren't out there doing what we do.

  5. Thanks for everyone's comments. I know my friend meant no harm at all. He has done nothing but be supportive. I could not have made it this far without his help.

    His email just hit me at an unusual low in my mental state. I called him to talk to him about my post to make sure he knew I wasn't throwing him under the bus. We are definately on the same page now.

    The one thing I have going for me is my mental state.

    I have alway said I have self esteem issues - I suffer from high self esteem. Now if I could only get my body to catch up :-)

  6. Some reason I couldnt comment on your blog for a couple of weeks, I dont know why, probably my computer, but I saved this till I finally let me comment. I think you are ready, you put the time,the miles, always remember, the race is the reward for all the hard work you have put in. Race your race, stick to your game plan.

    Last night before I went to sleep, I read this article by Matt Fitzgerald, maybe I couldnt post till I read it and was able to share the beginning of it with you, life is sometimes weird that way, i hope it helps.

    "Triathlons are hard. That’s one of the reasons we do them. If they weren’t hard, crossing the finish line would not feel so deeply fulfilling. We want races—and even many of our workouts—to be hard.

    Yet we also want them to be trouble-free. Avoiding unnecessary pain and suffering is instinctive. What makes triathlons so hard is that, to complete them, we must overcome not only pain and suffering but also our natural resistance to pain and suffering. On the mental level, doing a triathlon or hard workout is like being subjected to an argument between a devil on your left shoulder shouting, “Just quit!” and an angel on your left shoulder pleading, “Keep going!”

    The ability to keep going under such circumstances is often called mental toughness. There is solid scientific evidence that mental toughness is trainable—that is, we can learn to tolerate greater discomfort in physical exertion. Developing mental toughness is an important means to improve in the sport of triathlon because the more discomfort you can tolerate, the longer you can swim, bike and run at desired speeds before giving in to exhaustion."